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Year-Round Poinsettia Care 101

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Gardening | 0 comments

Poinsettias, whose bright petal-like bracts appear in late fall, have long been the most popular Christmas plant.

Hybridization has improved the fragile poinsettia. Plants are now more colorful; they also last longer.

Caring for Your Poinsettia

  • If your poinsettia is wrapped in foil, punch a hole in the bottom to provide good drainage. Place the pot on a saucer.
  • Leave the poinsettia in an area where it will receive as much indirect sunlight as possible. Do not place it in a draft. Ideally, poinsettias should be exposed to daytime temperatures from 60 to 70 degrees F and nighttime temperatures of about 55 degrees F.
  • Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Keep soil moist at all times but not soggy. Be sure the container has good drainage; discard excess water. DO NOT WATER OR MIST BLOOMS.
  • After the Christmas season and replanting, fertilize poinsettias every three weeks with a good soluble blooming plant food.

Closeup of a poinsettia.

How to Grow Your Poinsettia after Christmas

Cut back the plant after flowering and repot it. Use a premium potting soil mix. You can root cuttings from the tips of new growth during the summer. Fertilize every two weeks in spring and summer.

Flowers will develop only with ten to twelve hours of uninterrupted darkness each day for forty-plus days. To ensure flowers for Christmas, place poinsettias in a closet or a dark corner of a storage room from late afternoon until morning each day from the latter part of September through October. Brightly colored bracts will develop.

FAQ: Caring for Poinsettia

Q1: How often should I water my poinsettia?

A: Poinsettias prefer consistently moist soil; water them when the surface feels dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while under-watering can cause leaves to wilt and drop.

Q: What’s the best temperature to keep my poinsettia healthy?

A: Poinsettias thrive in temperatures between 65-70°F (18-21°C) during the day and above 60°F (15°C) at night. Protect them from drafts and extreme temperature changes.

Q: Do poinsettias need a specific type of light to flourish?

A: Poinsettias require bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves, so a spot near a sunny window with a sheer curtain is ideal.

Q: How can I encourage my poinsettia to bloom again next year?

A: To rebloom, poinsettias need a period of darkness for at least 14 continuous hours each night for 6-8 weeks in the fall. This mimics their natural light cycle and stimulates flowering.

Q: When should I fertilize my poinsettia?

A: Apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer after the blooming season, typically in early spring. Don’t fertilize when the plant is blooming.

Q: Can I put my poinsettia outside?

A: You can place your poinsettia outside in a shaded area during warm weather, generally above 50°F (10°C). Bring them indoors before temperatures drop in the fall.

Q: How do I deal with common pests on poinsettias?

A: Check regularly for pests like whiteflies and spider mites. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat infestations.

Q: What’s the best way to prune a poinsettia?

A: Prune in spring or early summer to encourage bushy growth. Cut back stems to about 6 inches from the base of the plant.

Q: How do I know if my poinsettia is stressed?

A: Dropping leaves, wilting, or discoloration are signs of stress. This may be due to overwatering, under-watering, or exposure to extreme temperatures.

Q: Can I repot my poinsettia? If so, when?

A: Repot your poinsettia when you notice signs of root crowding, or every 1-2 years. The ideal time is in early spring, after the blooming cycle and before new growth starts.